The song was written in the then small French fishing village of Le Lavandou now a favourite resort for British holidaymakers and second-home owners shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. According to Maschwitz, the title was "stolen" from a story by Michael Arlen. The song had its first performance in the summer of 1939 in a local bar, where the melody was played on piano by Manning Sherwin with the help of the resident saxophonist. Maschwitz sang the words while holding a glass of wine, but nobody seemed impressed. In the spring of 2002, an attempt was made to find the bar where this song was first performed with a view to having a blue plaque set up. With the help of the local tourist office, elderly residents were questioned, but it proved impossible to identify the venue.
When two lovers meet in Mayfair, so the legands tell Songbirds sing and winter turns to spring Every winding street in Mayfair falls beneath the spell I know such enchantment can be 'Cause it happened one evening to me
That certain night, the night we met, There was magic abroad in the air, There were angels dining at the Ritz, And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.
I may be right, I may be wrong, But I'm perfectly willing to swear That when you turn'd and smiled at me A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square
The moon that lingered over London town; Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown How could he know we two were so in love, The whole darn world seemed upside down
The streets of town were paved with stars, It was such a romantic affair, And as we kissed and said goodnight, A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square
Our homeward step was just as light As the tap dancing feet of Astair And like an echo far away, A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square I know 'cause I was there, that night in Berkley Square